ATHENS – On the air only a few days, the restored national broadcaster ERT is under fire for favoring officials of the government which restored it.
ERT resumed operations June 11, two years to the day after it was summarily shut down by then-Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on the orders of international lenders, throwing, 2,653 workers on the street.
A replacement station called NERIT later replaced it, staffed with far fewer workers from the old station, leaving more than 1,500 out of work and at odds with their former colleagues who broke solidarity and jumped at the chance to work again.
Prime Minister and ruling Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras vowed to restore ERT and did so, hiring back all the leftovers and replacing NERIT, which had replaced ERT, but keeping all the workers even though Greece is broke and being pushed to reduce the workforce even further.
The new ERT looks a lot like the old ERT, which was also accused of favoring whichever government was in power. The new ERT also has a mix of news and 40-year-old Greek sitcoms and ancient documentaries and is being funded with mandatory contributions attached to utility bills.
“With every new beginning there is a difficult period but I believe that step-by-step everything will improve,” Lambis Tagmatarchis told Kathimerini.
He was responding to criticism from opposition parties that ERT was giving disproportionate airtime to government officials and to reports that rehired employees allegedly clashed with staff that had left ERT after it was closed in 2013 to join its successor NERIT.
ERT has to finishing rehiring employees, including those who joined NERIT, by June 16. When ERT was closed in 2013, there were international complaints from journalists and supporters but critics said it was essentially a patronage dump for politically-appointed hacks and wildly overstaffed.